Turning Managers Into Coaches – The Challenges!

As a trainer, turning managers into coaches is a real challenge. We’d probably all like to think that all managers can become coaches – but can they?

There are perhaps three reasons why it is extremely difficult for managers to become coaches:

– Managers are time bound. Results have to be achieved to a certain standard within a certain time. Coaching takes time.

– Managers are performance oriented. They have been charged with getting results. Often the employee’s potential problem to be addressed through coaching, may not seem to relate to improved results.

– Managers often have a personal style that is more directive than consultative. It is thus hard to switch gears from telling and selling to listening and supporting.

1. Manager are time bound.

After training managers with effective coaching skills, I often get the comment “Gee, that takes time. Wouldn’t it be easier to just give them a suggestion of what they should do?”.

Managers need to experience “being coached” and solving a real problem of their own, to be sold on the benefits of spending time coaching. Only training that provides an opportunity for managers to personally experience the benefits of coaching, can sell them on the need to spend time coaching.

2. Managers are performance oriented.

Andrew Mayo’s excellent recent article “Everybody wants to be a coach” addressed the need to link coaching to performance and the organisation’s strategic intent, very well. Andrew made the point that if coaching is to be successful (and linked to achieving performance goals as well as personal development), then it is essential to ensure the manager passes authority for solving the issue to the direct report. Managers can see the logic in this, but can they change their natural behaviour?

Having worked with managers for a number of years who are well intentioned to coach their people, they still find this a difficult concept to grasp in practice. So much so, that often the coaching session becomes a performance counseling session and therefore does not always gain the commitment of the direct report. The payoff however in mastering this challenge, is to see the direct report take real ownership for their development knowing that the manager was the catalyst. It is only when managers grasp this (or they experience it as a direct report themselves), do they see the relevance and importance of such a time consuming activity as coaching.

Of course, there is a related issue here ‘ does the direct report trust the manager as “coach”? If the manager has not previously built a culture of trust within his/ her team, then it becomes increasingly difficult to be seen as a non-biased coach.

3. Personal style.

Does a manager have it? Can it be developed? The final and often most difficult challenge for the manager as coach, is to remain non-directive – merely asking questions, summarising, listening and only giving advice when it is asked for and then only at the appropriate times. For many managers, this is a major challenge as their normal directive style is the polar opposite.

On one leadership development programme I am involved with, I have the opportunity to ask managers to rank their natural style used when problem solving (or handling performance issues) with their people on a continuum ranging from “tell exactly what to do and how to do it” through to “ask questions, listen and paraphrase”. 80% of manager rank themselves toward the directive end of the continuum. This is then confirmed in practice coaching sessions.

I used to run training sessions where the participants did a theory plus self report exercise to discover their style as a coach. Often the understanding of coaching and the application, were quite different. One HR person, who had studied coaching for 12 months, scored fantastically well on the coaching inventory and knew all the theory. However, when it came to practise sessions, her style was directly the opposite. This was not uncommon.

I now have the luxury of working with managers on a two week residential programme where they can see coaching being modelled, understand the theory, experience being coached (on real issues) and practise coaching others. As trainers, we need to look for a variety of learning methods that include modelling, understanding, experience and practice.

Improved performance through effective coaching should be the goal for managers as it does have a real payoff for both the manager and the organisation. At a more basic level, the challenge for us as trainers, is to provide the learning stimulus for the normal manager to change his or her spots.


Fact or Fiction: 4 Records Management Myths

A comprehensive records management system simplifies and streamlines document retrieval and scanning, record storage, and the entire filing process for local companies. But some businesses avoid implementing a system because they think it will be too time-consuming and expensive. In fact, most companies find that they end up saving large amounts of time, money, and resources when they put a complete process in place.

Whether they perform records management activities in-house or outsource them to a professional records management company, many businesses have come to believe in the following common myths.

Myth #1 – Records management is nothing more than filing
While filing is a task associated with records storage and management, it is only one part of a much larger process. A well-planned and rigidly designed filing system including standardized naming conventions must be in place before filing can begin. A haphazard approach to a filing system inevitably leads to files being lost or misfiled. This can result in internal disorder, damaged business relationships, and even costly fines from government agencies.

Myth #2 – Records management is only needed for records stored offsite
This is an old perception that needs to be cleared up. The common image of dusty file boxes stacked in closets, basements, and old file rooms where no one will see them is simply unrealistic in today’s office. Some files must be accessed regularly and others must be immediately accessible. While a records management company certainly helps store and organize files that are not needed on a day-to-day basis, the process actually starts the moment a file is created-regardless of whether it’s paper or electronic.

A records management company will implement a strategy for making all records accurate, accessible, and authentic. A professional team can also bring together outdated files, paper files, and digital files so that documents are delivered fast and retrieval is accurate regardless of the age of the file.

Myth #3 – Records only need to be kept for seven years
Businesses who believe this myth are often confusing record storage times with Internal Revenue Service requirements. While the IRS requires a business to keep files and financial documents anywhere from three to seven years, the IRS still recommends companies keep some documents indefinitely. Records retention also varies depending on the state in which a company is located, so some states might require a business to keep records for an indeterminate amount of time-even if the IRS only needs them for up to seven years.

Myth #4 – Records management is costly
When you compare the cost of working with a reputable company to the consequences of natural and man-made disasters, the fees are nominal. Not having a proper records storage and management system can result in a business shutdown, litigation, and huge financial penalties.

In addition, when a business fails to comply with federal and state records laws, insurance companies may not be inclined to pay out on a settlement. Records companies help businesses stay organized, archive files, and destroy unwanted files in accordance with state and federal regulations. They can also shift the liability of in-house file storage, save on overhead costs associated with vast file rooms, and reduce the risk for theft or loss.

If you’ve heard enough of the myths and are ready to implement a comprehensive solution, a local records management company is ready to help you save time, money, and resources so you can focus on your core business.